Improving The Health of Senior Citizens

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The best climate, fabulous beaches, amazing nightlife and a vibrant downtown – we San Diegans have it pretty good, don’t we? Well, maybe not all of us. Last year, federal census data was published which showed that 15.6% of San Diegans are living below the poverty line. That’s a shocking statistic, but for some it’s even worse. It is estimated that out of every five seniors living in San Diego, two have to choose between food and rent.

The baby boom began in 1946, meaning the oldest baby boomers are reaching their seventies now. All over America, the proportion of senior citizens in the population is increasing and here in California is no exception. To have so many of our older people living in poverty is terrible in itself, but the future consequences are frightening. According to Serving Seniors, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping San Diego’s poorest seniors, there will be 11 million seniors in California by 2030. How will our infrastructure cope if the proportion living below the poverty line remains at this level?

Research carried out by Feeding America and the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger found that in 2011, 10% of California’s older people were living with food insecurity. The impact on their health is staggering: food-insecure seniors eat fewer calories and smaller quantities of all 10 key nutrients and they are more likely to report a heart attack or suffer from depression.

It isn’t simply a question of money. Most of us know what a healthy diet looks like, but for some older people, lifelong bad habits can be hard to kick. However, there is a wealth of information online on how to eat well in later life and as seniors grow more confident with the mechanisms offered on the Internet, online resources become more useful. Tips such as sipping water throughout the day, trying new varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as cooking your own meals are all important suggestions.

Meanwhile, organizations such as Serving Seniors offer older people fantastic help with health education, meals, affordable housing and supportive services. Feeding San Diego provides information on local food distribution centers and on CalFresh, California’s program to help low-income families and individuals buy nutritious food. Most seniors will be entitled to claim benefits.

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